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About the Debug Innisfail field studies

Frequently asked questions about the Debug Innisfail field studies

  1. What is involved in a field study and when do you propose to start?
    The study goal is to show whether it is possible to significantly reduce mosquito populations, and therefore hopefully reduce the threat of disease such as dengue and Zika. The study will compare, through regular monitoring, areas where sterile male mosquitoes have been released – release sites – to similar areas also being monitored, where they haven’t– control sites. It is proposed that the next study will begin before the 2017/18 wet season when wild Aedes aegypti mosquito populations are building and fewer sterile male mosquitoes will be required. The study will run until May 2018, with up to 24 weeks of releases.
  2. How many mosquitoes will you release?
    Sterile male mosquitoes, reared at JCU Cairns, will be transported to Innisfail and released three times a week from a slow-moving vehicle in the proposed release sites only. This may be early in the morning or late in the evening. Between 50-70 (non-biting) males will be released from the vehicle outside every house/block in the proposed sites. These numbers are similar to the male mosquitoes released in the MRR studies in Innisfail East and Silkwood. Over the lifetime of the study this number should be reduced. As male mosquitoes only live about 4 days, the release needs to be repeated two or three times a week to maintain a constant and stable population (to compete with the wild male mosquitoes).
  3. Where will you be releasing the sterile male mosquiotes ?
    Release sites have been identified as the communities of Mourilyan, South Johnstone, Goondi Bend, Cullinane and the central business district area of Innisfail and adjoining Goondi Hill.In addition to the ‘release sites’ the project team will continue to monitor mosquito populations in areas where releases aren’t taking place. These control sites, where a network of mosquito monitoring traps has been established, are proposed in Belvedere, Wangan and Innisfail South (Mourilyan Rd).
  4. How will you know you have community support to begin releases?
    We are engaging with the community in a number of ways, recognising that the diversity of the community requires different communication approaches. Face-to-face discussion is a vital part of our approach as is guidance from community members through a Project Advisory Group. We aim to be approachable and accessible and encourage all residents and business owners to contact us if they do not support the study.Guided by the Project Advisory Group and when we believe we have support for the study and the confirmed dates of the first releases. we will inform all residents and business owners in the release areas that the releases are about to begin. This will be provided through a mail box drop, local media and the CSIRO website, when residents may choose to ‘opt out’ from the study if they wish. This would mean that mosquitoes would not be released outside the residents’ property.
  5. Why Innisfail?
    The Cassowary Coast area has proven the perfect location for the study as it has the ideal rainfall and climate conditions which are conducive to abundant numbers of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Innisfail has in previous years experienced local transmission of the dengue virus and is close to JCU’s mosquito research facility in Cairns.
  6. Will residents experience more nuisance mosquitoes?
    As we are only releasing male mosquitoes (males don’t bite), residents should not experience any increased biting from mosquitoes. However, for a few days after each release residents may notice a greater number of mosquitoes around and even inside their home as the males we release will go looking for females that often rest inside houses.
  7. Is the project going to continue beyond June 2018?                                   We’re focused on the current research – once we see our results, we’ll evaluate our net steps.
  8. Are the releases working?                                                                               We’re excited about our progress but won’t have an update on the results until the study is complete and we can analyse all the data.